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Australian Silky Terrier

Australian Silky Terrier

Alert, glamorous yet robustly built, the Australian Silky Terrier has sharply pricked ears and a long straight coat parted down the back.

  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Basic training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Needs under an hour of walking a day
  • Small dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • Great family dog
  • Needs a small garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Weight: 3.5 – 4.5kg
Height: Around 23cm tall
Colours: Coat colours come in blue and tan, grey-blue and tan, silver and tan or silver-blue and tan
Size: Small
Kennel Club Groups: Toy


Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 3/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 2/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 1/5
Australian Silky Terrier standing on the grass


Keen, alert and active, the Australian Silky Terrier or ‘Silky’ for short is, beneath the coat, all terrier. With all the spice and fire of the larger terriers, they are still well equipped for their original purpose in watchdog and vermin control roles, as well as making lively companion animals.  Enjoying training, games and any activity where they can join in with their owner, this is a fun and remarkably robust little dog. Comparisons will be drawn with their relative the Yorkshire Terrier, but although they are similar in appearance and height, the Silky is the more solidly built, with a longer muzzle and less rounded head.

Australian Silky Terrier with children

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Australia

Previously known as the Sydney Silky, the Australian Silky Terrier is related to both the Yorkshire Terrier and the Australian Terrier. It is thought that in the late 19th century when breeders were seeking to refine the robust, rough coated Australian Terrier, they used the Yorkie to bring in the blue and tan colouring of the coat and probably to bring down the size.

Some litters will have produced silky coated puppies which were undoubtedly attractive to breeders despite not being the desired outcome. These became the foundation of the Australian Silky Terrier that we have today. They were officially recognised as a breed in Australia in the mid-1950s and by the FCI in 1962.

Health and Common Concerns

Like many small breeds, the Australian Silky dog breed can suffer from kneecaps that may temporarily slip out of place (luxating patellas), a hip disorder and a windpipe problem. See the Kennel Club site for further details on health testing.

Exercise Needs

An hour a day of exercise, ideally split into two 30-minute walks will keep a Silky Terrier amused, particularly if you add in extra training and games on top. This is an active little dog however and a fit adult will take much more exercise than this if you are willing to give it. Whilst they can be considered a companion or lapdog, they will only fulfil this role easily if given plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Space Requirements

Compact and neat, the Australian Silky Terrier will fit into any size home, but is better managed in a home with a decent sized and securely fenced garden. Suitable for town, country or city living, but be aware that in busier, more densely populated areas the Silkies propensity towards barking furiously at anything untoward can be problematic!

Nutrition and Feeding

Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed them at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of their particular food.

Grooming Australian Silky Terriers

The adult dogs long, silky coat needs just a few minutes of daily brushing and combing to prevent tangles and to keep it looking glossy and healthy. Puppies will benefit from early bathing and grooming either at home or with a professional groomer as the puppy coat can mat as it sheds out and changes to the adult coat. Be sure to check the coat after a walk, as, being around 13-15cm long, it can pick up all sorts of debris on the way!

Training Australian Silky Terriers

Clever and quick, brave and bold, the Australian Silky Terrier will be a fun companion to train and take part in a variety of sports including mini agility, mantrailing, trick training and more. Be sure to socialise these little dogs well with other pets, children and livestock and work hard on teaching a reliable recall. Silkies are inclined to be vocal so early socialisation and working on a ‘hush’ cue is sensible. Responding well to positive reinforcement, the Silky Terrier is willing and able to work hard at any task you offer, if you have the right relationship!

Best Family Dog Breeds

As with all toy dogs, it is best not to have them while you have very young children as it is all too easy for a small child to mistake a toy dog for a toy and terriers are generally less tolerant of childish mistakes. With older children, dog-savvy children and teenagers the Silky Terrier may prove a fun and entertaining companion, particularly if they can help with training and exercise.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • The Australian Silky Terrier was originally named the Sydney Terrier, however due to breeders developing the breed in several locations across Australia and Tasmania at the same time, it was felt the name ‘Australian Silky Terrier’ fitted better.
  • Until the late 1920’s, whilst the breed was still in development, some litters of Australian Terrier x Yorkshire Terrier could produce Australian Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier or Australian Silky Terrier puppies, with breeders determining which was which by coat type and head shape. It wasn’t until 1932 that crossbreeding was discouraged and the breeds properly separated.

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